Q&A: Josh Daiek climbs 10,000 feet in a single day to link four iconic lines in the Tahoe backcountry

Q&A: Josh Daiek climbs 10,000 feet in a single day to link four iconic lines in the Tahoe backcountry

Josh Daiek is a backcountry jack of all trades. He’s competed on the Freeride World Tour, he starred in Blank. The Movie and filmed in the wilderness from British Columbia to New Zealand. His latest endeavor is to embark on several day-long trips to tackle various iconic peaks and lines in his backyard of Lake Tahoe. Each day will feature 10,000-plus feet of vertical climbing to access these zones. The first installment of the project saw the 32-year-old team up with snowboarder Abe Greenspan to travel from Daiek’s backyard in Meyers to Emerald Bay. The mission linked Flagpole Peak (8,363 feet) to the “Hall of the Gods” couloir between the summits of Angora Peak (8,586 feet) and Echo Peak (8,895 feet) to “The Cross” couloir on Mt. Tallac (9,738 feet) to the chutes on Maggies Peak South (8,699 feet), summing up to a 12-and-a-half hour day. Below, Daiek fills us into the nitty gritty of the project, dubbed Tahoe Ten.

The Q&A:

Hi Josh. How’re things? I know you’ve been embarking on some badass adventures lately, are you tired?

Life is good. I’ve been hiking my ass off this season, but exploring so many cool zones. It’s exciting and keeps me motivated for the next day.

After four years of sub-optimal winters in Tahoe, how did the current snow depth factor into the decision to embark on the trip?

There are so many epic ski tours in the Tahoe Basin, but they literally haven’t been skiable top to bottom in a few years. With the good start to this season I just wanted to take advantage and ski as many of these lines as possible because you never know when the drought will kick back in.

Tahoe Ten: Meyers to Maggies

How did you come to the decision to tackle these objectives all in one day?

I was hiking up Mount Tallac with my buddy Abe Greenspan and we were bouncing ideas around on how to link up some cool ski tours. We thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to hike from the backyard and ski to Emerald Bay?” Once the idea was sparked we just waited for the right conditions and went for it.

What was the gameplan, objective by objective?

Well, since we essentially left from our homes, we didn’t have a car shuttle set up. We may have been a little ambitious thinking, “We know we’ll make it to Maggies and may have time to bag one more.” We barely made Maggies Peak [South] with light and hiked out in the dark as it was. After a couple calls on the summit of Maggies we were able to line up a ride home.

Did each stop go according to plan? Was there anything surprising that occurred?

Everything went pretty according to plan. We knew the hike up Mount Tallac would be the crux of the day. Typically we hike up the northeast aspect of Tallac, but due to the route of our traverse—south to north—we were forced to hike up the southern aspect. There is a steep east facing ridge on the south aspect so we chose to hike up that. We were in a safe spot, but it was scary to see and hear snow settling near us. We were definitely relieved when we made it off that pitch.

What were the snow conditions like?

I don’t think conditions could have been much better. There was a recent rain event before we did the tour, but in reality it helped bond the snow up high to steeper pitches. The top of each run was perfect, creamy pow but the bottoms were a little dust on crust.

Had you skied all of these lines before?

I had never skied our first run [of the day] which was on Flagpole Peak. This aesthetic face overlooks Meyers, which is just south of Lake Tahoe, and has been on the hit list for a long time. I was really amped to ski that face. The only other line I hadn’t skied was fall line into “The Cross” on Mount Tallac. There are so many fun lines on Tallac and everyone is drawn to the cross so I usually avoid it all together. When we reached the summit there were no tracks through the top entrance of the cross, but a few tracks in the lower third, which can be accessed through an alternate entrance. So we were stoked to score the first tracks through.

Can you describe the level of exhaustion at the end of a day like this?

It’s funny, after the tour we went to the bar for a celebratory beer and some food. As we sat there with endorphins running high I felt like I could hike another peak or two. Shortly after, I went home and passed out in my ski gear, I was definitely physically and mentally drained.

So, from my understanding, this is the first installment of a series of 10,000-foot days you’re going to embark upon in Tahoe. What are some of your hopeful objectives for the rest of the project?

Yes, this is an exciting project to work on. Abe and I have a couple of different tours planned. One would link up with the tallest peak in the Tahoe Basin called Freel Peak which stands near 11,000 feet. We have a couple of other ideas on the burner, but the biggest difficulty we are running into is the distance to cover between peaks. We basically started with the easiest tour. To make our other objectives happen we are going to have to literally run between peaks. I think we are going to be skiing with head lamps on too, [laughs], but seriously.

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What makes a project like this different from other similar adventure objectives?

I think the #TahoeTen series stands apart from other similar projects in a few ways. There are plenty of people hiking and skiing 10,000 vertical feet in a day, but our approach in line choice and the way we ski differs. It’s not our goal to just ski lines and faces to get vert, instead we are seeking steep, nasty lines that offer opportunities to charge in a big-mountain fashion. It takes a lot of focus and strength to hike this much vert and still muster the energy to attack a line in an aggressive fashion.

Note: Daiek has already begun the next objective in the Tahoe Ten series, as evidenced below:

Related: Josh Daiek and Stan Rey discover the magic of Taos Ski Valley in SFTV season opener

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